Stephen Hawking, who fought with motor neuron disease for five decades, once said, “Concentrate on things your disability doesn’t prevent you from doing well and don’t regret the things it interferes with.” Although large gaps exist when it comes to the welfare of differently abled individuals in India, people like Lalith Kumar Natrajan from our state has broken the conventions of what riding a motorcycle is known to us. Though confined to a wheelchair, the 37-year-old paraplegic covered 6,000 km from Kanniyakumari to Khardung La in 14 days on a customised Royal Enfield motorcycle.
“More than creating awareness about people with disabilities, I took this ride to break the taboo that people with disabilities cannot ride a motorcycle. I lost my mobility beneath my waist owing to a neurological condition called Transverse Myelitis, wherein the spinal cord is inflamed. I was just 11 then. But this didn’t dampen my spirit and I decided to fight,” he starts the conversation.
Lalith recalls that the trip made him understand the importance to focus on his abilities and skills. A disability rights activist, Lalith follows a disciplined lifestyle. “Sitting in my wheelchair, I daily do exercises for my arms and follow a good diet. This helped me during my trip,” he says.
Lalith is also the founder of Love and Acceptance, an NGO that supports differently abled people to lead a life with dignity. “My mentor Colonel Anand once told me — if you are interested in a crazy adventure, the world will listen to you. I follow this mantra and over the years, I’ve become a better individual. A never give up attitude has taught me to work hard and I’ve succeeded in that and I hope to become a living model and inspire others,” he smiles.
All set to attend the Royal Enfield’s Rider Mania (the largest gathering of Royal Enfield enthusiasts in the world) in November, Lalith will be riding from Chennai to Goa to meet motorcycle enthusiasts from across the globe. “Many enthusiasts plan their riding calendar around Rider Mania as it is the best place to meet old friends, make new ones, share stories and experiences and plan new adventures. This is one unique opportunity and am so excited about my trip. Meeting bikers from various parts of the globe and listening and sharing interesting stories would definitely boost my confidence level,” Lalith says as a parting note.